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Labor coercion and the accumulation of human capital

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  • Bobonis, Gustavo J.
  • Morrow, Peter M.

Abstract

This paper examines the effect of labor coercion on human capital accumulation. We use micro data from Puerto Rico, where unskilled laborers were forced to work for landowners during 1849–1874. Using variation in municipality-level suitability for coffee cultivation and international coffee prices, we estimate the response of schooling to exogenous increases in relative demand for unskilled labor in regimes with and without forced labor. During the coercive regime, increased coffee prices had no effect on individuals' literacy rates in coffee growing regions. Following the abolition of forced labor in 1874, similar changes in coffee prices reduced literacy rates by 12%, consistent with a diminished skill premium in the free labor market regime relative to the coercive period.

Suggested Citation

  • Bobonis, Gustavo J. & Morrow, Peter M., 2014. "Labor coercion and the accumulation of human capital," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 32-53.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:108:y:2014:i:c:p:32-53
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2014.01.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bertocchi, Graziella & Dimico, Arcangelo, 2014. "Slavery, education, and inequality," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 197-209.
    2. Suresh Naidu & Noam Yuchtman, 2011. "Coercive Contract Enforcement: Law and the Labor Market in 19th Century Industrial Britain," NBER Working Papers 17051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Graziella Bertocchi, 2015. "Slavery, racial inequality, and education," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 122-122, February.
    4. Graziella Bertocchi, 2016. "The legacies of slavery in and out of Africa," IZA Journal of Migration and Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-19, December.
    5. Nunn, Nathan & Trefler, Daniel, 2014. "Domestic Institutions as a Source of Comparative Advantage," Handbook of International Economics, Elsevier.
    6. Graziella Bertocchi, 2016. "The Legacies of Slavery in and out of Africa," Department of Economics 0096, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    7. Francesco Caselli & Guy Michaels, 2013. "Do Oil Windfalls Improve Living Standards? Evidence from Brazil," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 208-238, January.
    8. Alexander M. Danzer & Robert Grundke, 2016. "Coerced Labor in the Cotton Sector: How Global Commodity Prices (Don't) Transmit to the Poor," CESifo Working Paper Series 5937, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Galan, Juan Sebastian, 2011. "The Long Trace of Inequality: Evidence from Cundinamarca, Colombia," Documentos CEDE Series 107398, Universidad de Los Andes, Economics Department.
    10. Christian Dippel & Avner Greif & Daniel Trefler, 2015. "Outside Options, Coercion, and Wages: Removing the Sugar Coating," NBER Working Papers 20958, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Labor coercion; Human capital; Historical development;

    JEL classification:

    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • N36 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Latin America; Caribbean

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